WILLIAM ALEXIS STONE was born in Delmar, Pennsylvania. After serving as a private in the Civil War, he studied law, was admitted to the Bar in 1870, and began a private law practice in Wellsboro. He served as District Attorney of his home county—Tioga—from 1874 to 1877. He then moved to Pittsburgh, where he held the post of U.S. District Attorney for western Pennsylvania from 1877 until 1886, when he was removed from office by President Grover Cleveland for publicly supporting Governor James Beaver’s reelection bid—a demonstration of political involvement that federal officials were prohibited from making. Stone went on to win election to a seat in Congress, where he served from 1891 to 1898, when he won the governorship. As governor, he succeeding in retiring the state’s debt, but caused a scandal when he backed Republican boss Matthew Quay (who had supported his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against prominent Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker) for a U.S. Senate seat when Quay was under indictment for misappropriation of state funds. After leaving office, Stone joined with his son in a law practice and later served as Prothonotary (i.e., chief clerk) of the state Supreme Court and then the Superior Court.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 24. New York: James T. White & Company.